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The East African : Feb 18th 2017
FEBRUARY 18ò24,2017 The EastAfrican FOOD EATING OUT Enjoying a bite at the Black Tomato MAGAZINE XI GROUP AGENDA: The fitness centre, located in Niboye a few minutes drive from Simba Supermarket in Kicukiro, focuses on group fitness. Chap-Chap, on the rooftop, developed a specific menu to focus on health HEALTH, FITNESS AT SOHO CENTRE Denise Tuyi, Special Correspondent I bit into a delicious grilled steak, ciabatta brown bread sandwich with gooey barbeque sauce accompanied by lightly fried onions, avocados and lettuce at Black Tomato. The Black Tomato restaurant is situated at the Oyster Bay shopping centre in Dar es Salaam. It was here that I talked with Sandra Mulokozi, the co-owner and manager of Black Tomato, about her journey. “My friend Rachel Kessy started an initiative called Makutano, with the motto ‘one less plastic bag.’ She called me in 2010 said we’re opening this space in Oyster Bay and we want someone to rent the café at the centre of it. You’ve always wanted to open an eatery,” Sandra said. Black Tomato opened its doors in September 2010 at the then Makutano House. Sandra’s passion for good coffee and food is attested by her dedication to the restaurant. “In the beginning, our menu was quite small. We had three sandwiches, three salads, the cheese, meats and breads and the snap basket. Now we have a breakfast menu, and the sandwich menu has grown.” Initially, her menu was set up by professional chef Anna Maria Wolundrio. The menu still has a touch of gourmet-meets-home-food that marries healthy and tasty. For instance, my order on this day came with the option of either potato or sweet potato fries. Black Tomato is inspiring for young entrepreneurs. Sandra quit her job in the corporate world and followed her passion. She has faced some challenges, like the closing of Makutano House in September 2012 that forced the young restaurant to close for a short time. The closing down of the restaurant’s second branch last May was due to the decline of the economy, particularly the decline of the Tanzania shilling against the US dollar. The price of meals at the restaurant are fair; my sizeable sandwich with sweet potato chips cost Tshs15,000 ($6.7). Sandra named the restaurant Black Tomato after a place she used to frequent in Canada. - Caroline Uliwa A fter moving back to Rwanda in 2015, Yannick Ntwali founded the SoHo fitness centre late last year. The fitness centre, located in Niboye a few minutes drive from Simba Supermarket in Kicukiro, focuses on group fitness. “I decided to come up with a place that would give people a taste of boxing, and other fitness programmes. Then it led to other classes like boot camp, aerobics, and yoga. We are targeting fitness disciplines for people who want to lose weight, build muscle or those who just want to be generally fit,” he said. Ntwali approached Malik Shaffy who was already in the health business as co-owner of Chap-Chap restaurant in Kigali. The restuarant’s specialty, liffaa, also known as chapati wraps, is popular because of its affordability. “Whatever is on our menu usually costs less than what other restaurants around us offer. Our prices range between Rwf1,500 ($1.8) and Rwf4,000 ($ 4.9), with extras,” Shaffy said. Chap-Chap by SoHo is located on the rooftop of the fitness centre. Ntwali, 28, and Malik, 29, have been friends for a long time. “The reason I came back to Rwanda from the UK was because of Malik; his passion for what the country was doing gave me motivation to come and do something I was skilled in,” said Ntwali. Malik was studying hospitality in the UK, and wanted to bring the Smoothies and a salad served at Chap-Chap. Pictures: Cyril Ndegeya knowledge back to Rwanda. “We are like brothers; our parents and grandparents knew each other. Working with people who share the same beliefs and values helps to build a business,” Malik said. At SoHo, Chap-Chap developed a specific menu to focus on health. “We try to fit into the niche we are in through the aesthetics of the restaurant and the menu. What we offer here is slightly different from our first branch in Nyamirambo,” said Malik. The 580 square metres interior can hold 80 people at a time. It’s a whole package, coming to SoHo for a workout and then downstairs for food to energise you. “We try our best to give nutri- tious food. The fitness complements everything you do before eating, whether it is regulating weight or being fit,” added Malik Customer rates range from monthly to yearly subscriptions. “A regular membership goes for Rwf32,000 ($39) per month, but we can reduce prices for a large group. We plan to offer discounts later in the year,” said Ntwali. “People ask for machines, but we are a fitness club and it’s not about lifting weights but about knowing how to use your body to achieve your goals,” added Ntwali, who has never lifted weights but looks like someone who has. “We want people to achieve the most out of motivating surroundings. We also talk about the benefits of fitness such as stress relief and pain relief,” said Ntwali.
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